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Honoring 43 Years of Mission Readiness

Religious Accommodation of Civilian Federal Employees



Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination on the basis on religion. In 1972, the Act was amended to require that employers - including the federal government and military Services - attempt to accommodate religious practices, if doing so could be accomplished without detriment to the military mission or cause undue hardship to the civilian organization.
    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

What constitutes religious discrimination? The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers this overview.
    Religious Discrimination

The White House Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace, issued in 1997, provide current guidelines for civilian federal employees that are clear, jargon-free, and offer numerous scenarios that illustrate requirements, restrictions, and possible solutions.
    White House Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace

Federal employees are entitled to time off to observe religious holidays, exercises, and functions, as enumerated in 5 U.S.C. 5550a, Subpart J – Adjustment of Work Schedules for Religious Observances.
    J – Adjustment of Work Schedules for Religious Observances

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has issued guidelines for its members that add clarity to Title 5.
    OPM – Adjustment of Work Schedules for Religious Observances

In 1996, Congress enacted legislation that allowed for the use of peyote (a mild hallucinogenic drug) by Native Americans for sacramental purposes. Congress directed the federal government, including the military, to accommodate peyote use as an element of religious practice. This legislation applies only to peyote - no other hallucinogenic - and extends only to bona fide members of Native American tribal groups. The relevant text is contained in U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 21, Subchapter I, § 1996a:
    § 1996a. Traditional Indian religious use of peyote

 
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